Bread. To eat or not to eat, that is the question.

How to use the best high-fiber breads for weight control.

Now that Oprah has bought 10% of Weight Watchers and is appearing in TV ads saying she is losing weight while eating the bread she loves, it is timely to re-examine what we know about bread and weight management.

What seems like it ought to be a simple topic is actually quite complicated, and respectable nutrition scientists have a wide range of opinions supported by an array of research findings, which is why confusion continues to reign.

The Conventional Way

Nutritionists in the Weight Watcher camp believe that weight management largely comes down to portion control and exercise, and from that perspective there is nothing wrong with bread in measured amounts, to prevent feelings of deprivation. Oprah is presumably following this line of thought, and compensating for her bread consumption by counting carefully and reducing her calories elsewhere.

Average weight loss on a program based on calorie counting and portion control is typically small. Click To Tweet

What they don’t often say, however, is that average weight loss on a program based on calorie counting and portion control is typically small. Oprah may have lost 27 pounds since August (about 1 pound a week), but research studies show that the typical person who sticks with a live group Weight Watcher program loses much less than this before plateauing — if they don’t drop out first.

The Paleo Way

At the other end of the spectrum are the low-carb enthusiasts who say that human evolution didn’t prepare us to eat carbs, and that all carbs but especially grains are bad news. Leaving aside the very interesting new studies showing that our hunting, gathering ancestors actually did eat quantities of carbs, including grains, one reason the low-carb camp gives for avoiding carbs is that fluctuations in blood glucose are hard to cope with metabolically (which is true), and also that they cause cravings while also promoting inflammation. The latter claims are not very well substantiated by science, but nevertheless may hold more truth than the current weight of studies admits to. However, it is also true that there is virtually no evidence that paleo-style eating is more effective or sustainable than the Weight Watcher model.

There is virtually no evidence that paleo-style dieting is more effective or sustainable Click To Tweet

The iDiet Way

My philosophy is that there is a third — and more effective — way that can bring together the virtues of both camps without their respective disadvantages. Simply put: bread can be good or bad, depending on the composition. All we have to do is identify the good kinds and we can enjoy our bread without negative consequences.

What is good when it comes to bread? In my view, a good bread is one in which the natural propensity of white or whole grain flour to cause massive fluctuations in blood glucose is suppressed, which is important because blood glucose is one of the body’s signals for hunger. In practice this means a bread in which some of the whole grain flour is replaced with extra protein and/or fiber, or a loaf with a lot of whole wheat kernels, which digest more slowly to achieve the same modulation of blood glucose. Taste is important too of course, so making sure that the loaf in question is tasty also matters. Examples of breads that meet these criteria are Fiber One Multigrain Bread, Pepperidge Farm Light Style 7 Grain Bread and Thomas Light Multigrain English Muffins, which are all available in most supermarkets. Breads such as these are not only more filling, but lower in calories too. We also have our own recipe for a delicious high-fiber quick bread that many iDieters use at breakfast and for sandwiches.

Our own statistics indicate that iDiet is several times more effective than the conventional diets... Click To Tweet

We don’t yet have direct comparison of iDiet weight loss statistics with other programs (this is in the works) but our own statistics indicate that iDiet is several times more effective than the conventional diets — both in terms of overall weight loss and sustainability. Our “iDiet legal” breads are almost certainly contributing to this success. Like Oprah, I love bread, and am happy that we have found a way to let dieters everywhere “have their cake and eat it” when it comes to identifying delicious, healthy breads for weight control!

We have found a way to let dieters everywhere have delicious, healthy breads for weight control! Click To Tweet

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